Velocity Football staff and students honoured the life of head coach Mickey Lewis before resuming their education this morning by hosting a remembrance service and a minute’s applause.
It was a ‘bitter, sweet’ first day back following the Government’s easing of lockdown restrictions after the very sad passing of Mickey on Friday following a short illness.
Flowers and a bar of Mickey’s favourite Dairy Milk chocolate snack adorned the entrance to the Velocity Stadium as Justin Merritt, the full-time educational academy’s director, addressed students in the centre of the pitch before lessons started.
Justin told those gathered: “Every single person here today will be feeling the loss of Mickey, we are all devastated.
“We’ve lost a friend, a colleague, a great guy and an amazing coach who to all of you was a mentor. It’s a sad day for everyone, and there is nothing wrong with letting your emotions out.
“Grieving goes through a number of processes. There is loss and pain, but also pride because Mickey impacted so many of us. He has coached thousands of people and is an inspiration to all of us and I know many of you will have your own special memories.
“It’s a terrible tragedy, but throughout his short illness Mickey was always – always – asking about how each and every one of you was getting on. He adored coaching you all and working with you, you are all a massively important part of Mickey’s life and he had the upmost respect for everyone.
“The important thing is that Mickey’s legacy plays on. He will always be part of the Velocity Football programme.”
Students studying Velocity Football’s BTEC and Higher National Certificate programmes reflected on their memories of Mickey following Justin’s speech and laid flowers outside the stadium.
Second-year Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport student Tyan Hawkins said he will dedicate the rest of his footballing career to Mickey after he considered his future in the sport not long ago.
“I didn’t know if to carry on with my career or not,” said Tyan. “But Mickey took time out of his day to contact me directly and for that I will be forever in his debt.
“Mickey was a great coach but also a friend too. To me, he was the bridge from Velocity Football to Oxford City FC’s first team – I owe everything to him.
“I’ll remember Mickey fondly, he was a football lover and made you work hard but was fair to everyone. He has taught me how to act in certain situations on and off the field, and I will dedicate the rest of my career to his memory.”
Archie Meeson joined the Velocity Football programme in 2017 and has been training with Mickey since.
He added: “Mickey was an amazing character and would go out of his way 24/7 to help anyone on or off the pitch.
“He had a great footballing mind and was respected by so many people. From the start of my time with Velocity Football, he has been there to support me. The stories I have read on social media since his death about his playing and coaching career will forever remind me of the Mickey I know.
“Mickey is a great guy, and I will thoroughly miss him. My thoughts go out to his wife Suzanne and son Zach who I met a couple of times and of course to those who knew him too.”
Those who would wish to remember Mickey are invited to send flowers to Oxford City Football Club where a display has been created outside the stadium’s entrance.
A GoFundMe page has also been setup to support Mickey’s family during this difficult time. Donations can be made here: Fundraiser by Mickey Lewis Memorial Fund : Mickey Lewis Memorial Fund (gofundme.com).
Administered by Ignite Sport UK, Velocity Football is Oxford City Football Club’s education programme.